Saturday, November 29, 2008

the weather channel atlanta marathon race recap

the oldest marathon in the southeast and one of the ten oldest in the country, the weather channel atlanta marathon on thanksgiving day is also the only u.s. marathon run on an olympic course - approximately 90% of the course is the same as that run by the world's best at the atlanta games in 1996. runners pass under the olympic rings on their way to the finish line, an exhilarating end to a challenging event.

- race website
wednesday, november 26
i worked most of the day but headed out early to try to make it down to atl in time for the expo (closed at 8pm); i didn't want to risk missing packet pick-up and be unable to run. j and i left around 4:15pm, and screeched into the hotel at 7:52pm or so. our 2-2.5 hour drive had become 3.5 hours (traffic was terrible!), but thankfully we just made it. i rushed through the pick-up, pretty much ignoring the expo since most of the vendors were packing up anyway, and headed to our hotel while trying to find somewhere to eat dinner.

my previous best-marathon was run off of a healthy chicken sandwich from mcdonald's (south bend, indiana '07) - i did that race solo and did not know how to get around up there, but found a mcd's near the hotel. since then, i've never been concerned about carbo-loading the night before, which made dinner for this race easy. there are no drive-thrus in downtown atlanta of course, so we ordered food at our hotel. i got a chicken panini and j got some sort of turkey sandwich, and we ended up trading because i didn't really like mine.

we got up to the room and i started getting my clothes ready for the morning. somehow i had managed to forget my long sleeved under armor shirt that i was going to wear under my short sleeves! ahh the panic. the race shirt was a decent, long sleeved, brooks technical shirt, but come on... huge cardinal sin to wear the race shirt during the race! it was supposed to be about 37 degrees in the morning and i knew i would not be comfortable in just a t-shirt and shorts. both j and jess (via text message) told me i should wear the race shirt and not worry about being a dork. i knew they were right but i went to bed hoping it would miraculously be warm enough in the morning to not need it.

thursday, november 27 - race day
well the weather was perfect for a marathon. it started out around 37 (so i did break down and wear the race shirt for warmth), but warmed up into the 50s during the race. it was sunny with a little breeze, and i got a nice tan line from my shorts.

i figured the roads would be closed and we wouldn't be able to drive down to turner field to park near the start/finish lines, and since we needed to get on the road asap afterwards, i didn't know if we'd be able to get out right away. i read online that one of the marta stations up the road was a 15-20 minute walk to the start, and our hotel was 2 blocks up from that station, so i figured no big deal, we can walk it.

yeah great idea. it turned out to be two miles. i had to walk 2 miles before i ran 26(.2). of course this also means i walked 2 more miles after i ran... i'm sure you can imagine how great that felt. i think those two miles back to the car were worse than the whole marathon. my legs hurt so bad and i was crying half the time. j tried to carry me for a little bit but that hurt too. i think he ended up holding my weight up for me while we walked back. oh yeah, and it turns out we would've been fine parking at the start/finish area.....

the race
after the 2-mile warm up walk we got to the start line like 10 min before the race was going to start. perfect timing. i rushed into a port-a-potty and then back to the start line. took a few quick pics, gave j my sweatpants, and hopped in the back of the line. there were only about 1,000 people signed up for the full marathon so it was "seed yourself". i didn't want to start out too fast and i figured having more people to pass isn't a bad thing so i started pretty far back in line. i never heard a gun or announcement or anything but people started shuffling forward and the race had begun.

ultimately i wanted to run an 8min/mile pace, but i was aiming for 8:23/mile to get a bq. i started out trying to hold a good pace but not too fast - i wanted to leave something for the last 10k. i was feeling pretty good pace wise for the first 16 miles, but i could tell it was becoming harder to maintain. i thought i'd done a decent job holding back during the first half and i'd be able to run negative splits (probably for the first time in my life), but i was starting to realize i was getting tired. i wanted to throw the hammer down at mile 20, but there just was no hammer to throw.

i ran the last 8 miles or so with a guy who was wearing a huge fleece and some adidas pants (i don't know how he wasn't burning up), but he was holding a good pace. i pushed myself to keep up with him because i knew i would likely slow down significantly if i didn't have anyone nearby to run with. i pulled away from him for good between miles 25-26 when i turned on my kick and i didn't see him after the finish so i never got to tell him thanks. the last few miles were significantly slower, all around 8:40ish, but i held on for a bq.

j was, once again, a great spectator. he took the train to various stops and gave me water/gu and ran along side me at a few different spots (miles 6, 10, and 16 i think). unfortunately there weren't any stops in the last 10 miles that he could take and get back to the finish in time so those miles were tough, but it was nice to know he'd be there waiting.

aches and pains
i had side-stiches a few times in the first 5 miles, mostly on the downhills. i slowed down a tad but forced myself to run through them and luckily they went away. annoying though. i got one again around mile 20 or 21 on another long downhill and for the first time in my life i thought "man i hope this downhill ends soon".

at mile 8-ish the bottom of my right foot began feeling sore and having a burning sensation. it wasn't anything too bad but i was afraid i was going have an enormous blister on the bottom of my foot. turns out the bottom is fine, but my right pinky toe got it's share of rubbing and doubled in size thanks to a sweet blister.

around mile 11/12 i started having a pain on the inside of my left leg down by my ankle. i've never hurt there before, and it was hurting pretty good. i was actually thinking semi-logically and told myself if it was still hurting when i saw j again around mile 16 i would drop out. this wasn't my goal race and i didn't want an injury jeopardizing the upcoming goofy challenge. whatever it was, it went away within the next mile and i was relieved. i didn't really want to quit.

i never really hit the wall, i think anyway. if i did it sure wasn't as bad as the myrtle beach marathon ('06, my first). maybe i was a little tougher mentally this time. my legs were getting really tired and started to get that ache-all-over sensation around mile 18, but i kept pressing on. i knew i had been slightly ahead of bq pace the whole race and i didn't want to lose all my hard work in the last few miles.

while i felt a little dorky running in the race shirt, there were lots of other people breaking this 'rule' too and it didn't bother me too much if people thought i was a dork. i was comfortable and, oh yeah, i bq'd. there were a few other interesting clothing choices i noticed...

at the start line were two ladies getting ready to run together, i assume anyway because they matched. they were wearing pink sweatpants and light gray sweatshirts. i'm hoping those were just their warm layers they were going to toss because i can't imagine running in true-sweatpant/shirt material for even 1 mile. talk about hot.

early on the race, can't remember when exactly, i saw a lady running in socks and teva-like sandals. i can't imagine any kind of sandals being good to run in? i don't even want to know what kinds of blisters she got.

these folks weren't wearing abnormal clothing but just after 13 miles i came up on a couple running doing the death-march together. i have a thing about people and their irky habits while running and this couple's stomping feet is one of them. i had to pick it up for a bit to get away from the noise.

post race
once i finally hobbled the two-miles back to the car, i immediately popped some ibuprofens and waited anxiously for them to kick in. they did a pretty good job and j and i enjoyed double thanksgiving dinners at his house and mine. it sure was nice to eat like michael phelps for a day!

5th out of 23 age group finishers (20-24)
20th out of 178 female finishers
169th out of 730 total finishers

3:39:24 - boston qualifier!


  1. Great race report & congrats on the BQ! Definitely earned bkfst in bed AND massage.

  2. Oh My God, congratulations on qualifying for Boston, that's awesome! Once you get in for sure, and get your number, you'll have to let me know, as my brother is planning on running it again (I think) for the 3rd time. He said it's easily the hardest one he's ever done, due to all the up and down-hills after Wellesley. Oh, and I also live outside of Boston so I could cheer for you! :-)

    I can't believe you are up and running again already. Completely purely amazing.

    You are so fast!!